If you're planning to board the 3D TV train in 2012, LG Electronics is the ultimate Fat Controller. In stark contrast to other TV vendors, the Korean conglomerate remains committed to 3D technology, with 16 new 'Cinema 3D' Smart TVs launching this month.
The cream of the new Cinema 3D range -- such as the flagship 55in LM9600 (RRP: $4599) -- boasts a stronger emphasis on design, with thinner bezels, 'floating' stands and brushed steel finishes. But the major draw card appears to be 3D.
“LG’s 2012 Cinema 3D range epitomises the customer desire for a superb 3D performance at home," claimed LG’s General Manager of Marketing, Lambro Skopidis. "[In order] to emulate the experience they receive at the cinema... consumers are purchasing TVs with larger size screens and 3D capabilities that bring the immersive 3D viewing experience into the living room which is exactly what our range delivers.”
LG's 3D TV range employs passive 3D technology via a polarised film on the screen which separates the picture into images for the left and right eye. In addition to reducing flicker, this also allows you to use cheap cinema-style glasses that do not require batteries.
There has been much debate about the pros and cons of passive 3D technology. On paper, the method is inferior to active shutter 3D due to its lower resolution (Full HD video is presented at 1920x540 pixels due to the need to split the image into alternate frames).
In practice though, the difference in image quality is negligible. Indeed, content on passive 3D displays often looks brighter and suffers from less flickering. As is often the case, the answer is very much in the eye of the beholder.
The 55in LM9600 is the new flagship in LG's Cinema 3D range.
Big screen gaming
LG's passive 3D technology can display two different full-screen 2D images to different people simultaneously. (Sony's 3D TV range offers a similar function, albeit via different methods). With LG TVs, this is achieved by wearing specialised Dual Play glasses which contain two of the same lens, effectively 'shutting out' one of the images. The result is two full-screen displays on one TV. As you can imagine, this is a godsend when it comes to two-player gaming -- it will even work with older consoles such as the Nintendo 64.
3D Sound Zooming
Another new feature announced by LG for its 2012 TV range is 3D Sound Zooming. This automatically synchronises audio with 3D images for an extra layer of immersion. For example, a 3D plane flying overhead will be accompanied by a blast of engine noise much closer to your ear.
We were given a demo of 3D Sound Zooming during the launch, but it was hard to assess its effectiveness due to the level of ambient noise in the room. In any event, users will be able to adjust the level of 3D sound zooming via a 3D depth control option. So if it's a dud, you can simply switch it off.
3D for the masses
LG also announced a brace of exclusive 3D content for its TVs via the 3D World Smart TV app, which currently offers around 300 free 3D shorts. The content on offer encompasses sports, documentaries, nature videos and children's programming.
The quality of the clips -- both in terms of affective 3D and entertainment value -- is a bit hit-and-miss at present. Nonetheless, it does ensure customers have plenty of 3D content to trawl through from the moment they set up their TV, which is obviously a good thing.
The future of 3D?
LG's strong 3D focus was in stark contrast to Samsung's 2012 TV launch this week, where 3D was barely mentioned. It could be argued that LG needs to rely on sales gimmicks such as 3D to stand out from the crowd.
On the other hand, perhaps Samsung, et al, are shying away from 3D because they know they've been outclassed? Indeed, LG's recent 3D K-Pop demonstration (which we first saw at CES) is probably the most impressive 3D we've seen outside of the cinema.
What's your take on 3D TVs and passive shutter technology? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.